I haven’t been able to run for the last couple of weeks. It started with a bone that went out in my foot (that my chiropractor fixed brilliantly in one go) but continued because I’ve been having these terrible leg and foot cramps and my muscles have been hurting. It’s been frustrating, to say the least. Some days I’ve wanted to bang my fists against a wall and cry. Other days, I have. Last night, I couldn’t sleep because they were hurting. After a restless night, I woke up this morning in a total fog.
I have a mountain of work on my desk but sitting and trying to work was proving to be beyond ineffectual so I decided to just put on my headphones and go for a nice long walk. Fresh air, sunshine, a tiny droplet of exercise to make me thirsty for the cardio that I couldn’t have. And right at the beginning of the walk my foot started to seize up a little bit. I stopped and asked myself what is going on with me. I’ve been asking myself that a lot this last week, but I feel like the answer finally came down, a beam of light into my brain, and a whole bunch of things clicked.
Muscles. Tension. Tensing. Squeezing. Contracting. Holding far too tightly, trying to force. Trying to make something happen or be a certain way.
Just the other day, I was telling my best friend that I realized something about myself. Everyone talks about square pegs and round holes, but I’m not even a damn peg. I’m like a little blob of goo, that can sometimes fit into a round hole, and other times fit into a square hole, and even occasionally look like a square trying to fit into a round hole, but I never really belong anywhere. I’m holding myself in this shape so that I can be a part of the board that everyone else is on. And when I finally just stop and let myself be me, I ooze gelatinously out into the world, a ill-formed oddity, at a total loss as to who I am or where I belong.
I’ve been doing this a lot more these last few weeks, even in my personal life. I’ve been trying to inwardly and outwardly conform myself to who I think I’m supposed to be, to who others expect me to be. I’ve been trying so hard to do things that other people want me to do, believing that I need to do them. But it isn’t working. Almost no good has come of it. I’m tensing up my entire self, contorting myself into weird shapes… it’s no wonder my muscles are starting to cramp.
I’m resisting the aspects of myself that I don’t like again, and I know I’m doing it. The lack of exercise has removed the band-aid that I was using to grind through it and now I’m forced to feel all of the things I’ve been resisting. Life has a funny way of doing that. Pain is an invitation for us to look at ourselves, and be honest. I don’t have the solution, but I know it starts with consciously letting go in the moment, as much as I can. And by letting go, I mean allowing myself to be who I really am, allowing myself to feel all of the negative emotions that I don’t like and try to run from. Relaxing. I don’t need to cling so tightly to the bank of the river out of fear. I need to relax and let it carry me away to where it wants to go. I don’t get to shape the river. I get to ride in it.
I slowed down, breathed more deeply, and took my time on my walk. I consciously relaxed. And for the rest of the walk my muscles were fine. It felt so good to just be outside and be moving.
There is a lake nearby that Brandon and I occasionally go walking around. During the day it is infested with ducks. But at night, all of the gaggles are gone. Where do they go? I don’t know. That sounds like the start of a kids book. “Where do the ducks go? I don’t know.” They go… wherever ducks go. But every so often there is this one odd duck — this weird little loner that is always the only featherball to be found by the water, quacking around the grass at night by himself. He’s always waddling through a shower of sprinklers, slurping up juicy worms to his heart’s content.
The first time we saw him I laughed and said to Brandon, “that duck is my spirit animal.” I’m the one weirdo, happy with my late night worms while the rest of the ducks are sleeping. Every time I see him, he makes me smile, and reminds me that sometimes, it’s just better to be yourself. Even if you’re the odd duck.